Rupert Bunny's numerous sunny landscapes of the south of France were painted from colour notes sketched in the open air, usually during the spring into summer throughout the 1920s. He visited such places as St Paul du Var, Le Lavandou, Sanary, Avignon, Bandol and Cassis, travelling to Cérét near the Pyrenees and Toulon near Marseille. There is a delightful freshness about these oil sketches, painted in such immediate response to the motif that an occasional thumb print has been preserved in the pigment. Figures of French peasants, working in the fields or carrying heavy loads, as in this painting, occasionally appear in the larger, finished paintings. In the mid twenties he also painted group scenes and individual portraits, usually of peasant women - aged and ennobled by their toil.
Bunny's landscapes invariably show the presence of human activity - of ploughed fields, terraced vineyards, olive groves, orchards, farm buildings or boats at anchor, all painted in a high key and filled with sunlight. Very occasionally a grey day clouds the scene, rendered in a harmonious range of interrelated colours. For The French Church Bunny employs a rainbow palette of bright colours and opalescent hues. As Bunny seldom dated his work, identification of the scene and stylistic analysis are required to place it exactly within his oeuvre. The colours and handling forms suggest that this work was painted in about 1923.
We are most grateful to David Thomas for assistance in cataloguing this work.
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